Saturday, 16 April 2011

CD Review: System Of A Down, by System Of A Down (1998)

System Of A Down's debut is all political rage and fury, the back of the CD featuring a manifesto for a revolution, warning of the impending collapse of the system and the need to clench fists, etc., etc. All good fodder for impressionable young minds as they rush to buy the music that will ensure their heroes become very much part of the system.

But what about the music? System Of A Down is filled with a lot of tinkering, a lot of swearing, and a lot of songs with one-word titles, most of them short enough, at under three minutes, to support a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Serj Tankian delivers his vocals somewhere between a Broadway theatre stage and a Milan opera house, an approach that sets the band apart in any sub-genre of metal. Daron Malakian finds a lot of crunch, a lot of soul, and a lot of creativity in his guitar, a combination that would quickly propel him into the front ranks of metal guitarists.

Here and there, fragments of good ideas emerge and these would mature and grow into a much better product on Toxicity. Sugar manages to nurture a searing little guitar melody into a classic, the best indicator of what System Of A Down will be evolving into. Spiders takes its time, controls the pace and discovers a new world of power within calmness that the band would exploit with great success in the future. Peephole discovers a spooky carnival theme that evokes a muddy field filled with crusty performers escaping a miserable past and with the promise of better futures long behind them. And deep into the songlist, P.L.U.C.K. has fun with what passes as straightforward metal in the hands of System Of A Down, John Dolmayan giving his drum set a fearsome beating.

System Of A Down is an album full of promise and creative ideas, and almost equally full of naivete, scattered thinking and half-baked concepts. Better days ahead.


Daron Malakian - Guitars
Serj Tankian - Vocals
Shavo Odadjian - Bass
John Dolmayan - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Suite-Pee - 8
2. Know - 7
3. Sugar - 10
4. Suggestions - 7
5. Spiders - 9
6. Ddevil - 6
7. Soil - 7
8. War? - 6
9. Mind - 7
10. Peephole - 8
11. CUBErt - 6
12. Darts - 7
13. P.L.U.C.K. - 8

Average: 7.38

Produced by Rick Rubin with System Of A Down.
Mixed by D. Sardy.  Engineered by Sylvia Massy.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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